Romance Cooks

Mushroom-Leek Ragout on Penne – Mary K. Preston

I like a lot of different cuisines, but when I’m in the mood for some serious comfort, I really love rustic Italian. Fitting that one of the male leads for my recent book is an Italian….

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Mushroom-Leek Ragout on Penne

*This can also be served with fresh pasta and it’s quite delicious–but penne is less labor intensive and also delicious. Also, if you’re not a fan of vegetarian recipes, you can easily add chicken.*


One pound penne pasta

2-3 leeks

one pound porcini or baby bella mushrooms

1/2 onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flake

one can of crushed tomatoes

olive oil

Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, keeping the root mostly intact. Rinse them very, very thoroughly–leeks are incredibly full of sand! Chop them into half-moons about a quarter inch wide–it’s not that important to be precise, as they cook down. Some people only use the white parts, but I am quite fond of all but the very tips of the leeks.

In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add the mushrooms and saute over high heat until browned. Add the onion, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and red pepper flake and cook for about ten minutes. add the crushed tomatoes and allow the mixture to come up to a boil before lowering the heat.

In a big pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil with a heavy dose of salt–at least two tablespoons. When the water is at a boil, add the pasta and cook until about one minute short of the instructions. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce, letting the heat from the pan cook the pasta the last minute. You may want to reserve a little of the pasta water to add in, if the sauce gets too dense; but mostly I just don’t let the pasta drain as thoroughly, and the residual water mingles with the sauce for a good texture. Serve with grated parmigiano and a glass of the wine of your choice!



When Nick Laurent’s grief over losing his wife transitions into full-blown depression, his best friend Paolo DeLuca is worried. After trying and failing to pull Nick out of his downward spiral, he decides that his girlfriend Angharad Johns can accomplish what he can’t, and convinces her to try seducing the guitarist.

Nick Laurent, missing his wife and wishing that his friends would leave him alone in his grief, is unsure of accepting a new partner in Angharad. As his feelings for her develop, Nick wonders if he’s betraying his late wife by falling for Paolo’s girlfriend.

Angharad Johns is conflicted at the idea of seeing two men at the same time. Instead of being the seducer, Angharad is seduced, and soon finds her schedule fuller than she could ever imagine. If she is going to keep this up, she has to find a way to fit both gorgeous men into her life.

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